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Why visit the Landeszeughaus?

In Graz you can find a unique Museum.

It’s actually not a museum but a storage facility, an arsenal that has been used for such a long time that it turned into a Museum. It contains over 30.00 items and as an arsenal it ist he last of ist kind. This museum ist he „Landeszeughaus“ in Graz.
There you will find suits of armour, swords, shields, but also firearms of all sorts. When most of us hear about „armour“ we are reminded of brave knights who fight for justice and glory. It’s just that when this arsenal was founded the time of knights was already been terminated by professional infantrymen with pikes and guns and mounted soldiers who were called „cavalry“. In this new order of things many knights became officers.


What were those threats from which the people oft the „Green Marque“ (Steiermark) known as Styria wanted to protect themselves? On the one hand it was the Ottoman empire whose influence stretched tot he borders of the lands ruled by the Habsburgs, on the other hand the Thirty Years War from 1616 to 1648 which was motivated by religious arguments.


There was a continual search fort he right building to house that arsenal in Styria. Once a house in Graz was found, there was the danger that the sheer weight oft he weapons and armours could destroy the building.


When you enter the „Landeszeughaus“ in the center of Graz will see on three floors swords, all kinds of armour, firearms from pistols to cannon collected through the centuries and mostly never used. There are some curious and interesting items like a horse armour, gifted to he museum by an aristocrat who no longer had a use for it. Today this armour is a unique and priceless part oft he exhibition.


There are also two codpieces, that were those parts of an armour that protected the most vulnerable parts oft he male anatomy and used tob e a part of most suits of armour. Maria Theresia „The empress“ who ruled the Austrian lands in the 18th century ordered the codpieces to be disposed of as their shape not only protected the groin of its wearer but also enhanced ist shape in a manner she considered indecent. So that these two are the only ones in the Zeughaus that escaped this purge.


You will also note that some armours and breastplates were made after the fashionable male clothing of the time. Selected suits of armour are decorated masterfully by artisans, which shows that their function and purpose don’t not exclude aesthetic design. All this things are told by the museum’s guides, who not only point out the different pieces to you but also hand out replica helmets, swords or gauntlets, so that the visitors can feel their weight or even try them on. You will also learn that some German figures of speech that are still used come from this time, just like the English phrases like „to bite the bullet“ or „a flash in the pan“.


Once again you will see how knightly fight was turned into „Kriegshandwerk“ – the professionalized craft of war. Weapons that changed from Symbols of social satus to tools for : Be it the „Panzerstecher“ that pierced chainmal, the halberd that combined an axe, a spear and a sharp hook or the „Reiterhammer“ (horsemans pick) a contraption to damage or even piece armour made for horsemounted fighters. Finally the Landeszeughaus itself is also a museum that shows how these items were stored in the past.


There is the irony that a big part of the 30.000 pieces oft ha exhibition was never used in battle, as the hour of dire need never came up. „If we just had known that, we could have saved a fortune!“ would have been the reaction oft he upright citizens of Graz who paid for the Landeszeughaus if they had heard of this. This magnificent collection was in danger several times in ist history, but neither the Ottomans, nor the Swedish Army of Gustavus Adolfus or the French under Napoleon were the culprits.


The French army demolished the fortifications of Graz in 1809 but was paid oft to leave the famous „Uhrturm“. The Arsenal was not touched. Those Cannon that were evacuated in order to prevent them falling into the hands oft he French, later had to be sold as the cost for transporting them back to Graz was too high.


The greatest danger to the collection came from the same Ruler who thought that codpieces would endanger public morality: „The Empress“ Maria Theresia. She wanted to transport the contents oft he arsenal to Vienna. The notables of Styria protested and so the „Landeszeughaus“ stayed in Graz, but the Styrians from this time on had to take full financial responsibility for the upkeep.


Another close call for the integrity oft he collection came during WW II, when a „Materialspende“ was asked oft he museum. This means the Third Reich expected some of the museums possessions to become „donated material“L: Armour, swords and helmets would have been scrap metal used for the armament industry.


So visit the Landeszeughaus, and try to make a guided tour to immerse yourselves in the era when the knights had just vanished and tanks were just a strange idea in Leonardo’s notebook

By Dessislaw Pajakoff

Прочетено 101 пъти Последна промяна от Неделя, 30 Юни 2024 20:25
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